Does Eating Nuts Make You Fat?

I hear it all the time, “Eating fat make you fat.”  But is it true?

If you have been avoiding tasty walnuts, peanuts, almonds and pistachios because they have too much fat, read on!

At the Heart of Nuts

The main type of fat in most nuts is polyunsaturated fat, a type of fat with bends in its molecular structure making it liquid at room temperature.  Liquid at room temperature is you tip-off that eating this fat in place of saturated fat, which is solid at room temperature, may reduce our risk of heart disease.

From most nuts, the polyunsaturated fat is linolenic acid omega-6, which we get plenty of in our American food choices.  However, it’s worth mentioning that walnuts have alpha-linolenic acid, which converts to omega-3 in the body.

By the way, omega-3s in walnuts can lower our risk of heart disease by reducing inflammation and heling lower blood pressure. Sweet.

Omega-3s are essential—we need to get them from foods we eat.  And, when you’re eating more plant-based or you don’t eat fish like salmon, tuna and sardines, walnuts can be a go-to choice.

Weighing In on Nuts

The irony is, cutting back on fat can make it harder to stay full between meals.  I don’t know about you, but mind over hunger only last so long.  Eventually, I cave to hunger.  But where do nuts fit in to feeling full?  And how do they impact our weight over time?

Deirdre Tobias co-author of a study published in the journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health, wanted answers to these questions.   She explains her finding, “When you increase nuts at the expense of these other snack foods, there’s an even greater benefit.”

Nuts have something that many snack foods don’t.  My interview with Patti Neighmond originally heard on the Morning Edition of NPR September 30, 2019 explains shares this secret and how it helps with weight loss.

Ture or False? Eating Nuts Make You Fat

False.  The bottom line, Tobias’ results associated regularly eating at least a half-ounce of nuts a day with a 23% lower risk of gaining 10 or more pounds or becoming obese in the four-year timeframe of the study.

Keep in mind, that total calories count.   Eating fat does not make you fat.

What is ½ and ounce of nuts?  12 almonds, 9 medium cashews, 6 hazelnuts or filberts, 4 medium Brazil nuts, 6 macadamia nuts, 16 peanuts, 7 pecan halves and 7 English walnut halves

Lemon Oregano Walnut Balls

  • ½ cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • ¼ cup oat flour
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1½ cup cooked chickpeas (1-15 ounce can, rinsed and drained)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp coarse salt
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon saved parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon
  • Fresh chopped oregano to garnish

In a food processor, pulse the onion until finely chopped.  Add the remaining ingredients. Pulse until the mixture comes together and is easily formed into a ball. If the mixture is too wet, add a bit more oat flour.

Roll into 1-inch walnut-size balls. Lightly coat you’re your hands with olive oil to keep the mixture from sticking. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before cooking.  The balls can be made a day in advance and kept in the refrigerator before cooking.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or spray generously with olive oil.  In a small dish, add the olive oil.  Roll each ball in the oil and place it the baking sheet about 1 inch apart.  Bake 25 minutes, turning once halfway through cook time.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly before transferring to a serving dish.  Squeeze with fresh lemon and sprinkle with cheese and fresh oregano.